Culture

The New Segregationism

Director Spike Lee in 2012 (Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty)
The Oscar nominations have brought a corrosive racial politics to the fore.

One of the stranger demands of various campus affiliates of Black Lives Matter was the call for “safe spaces.”

That is a euphemism for designated racially segregated areas.

In such zones, particular minority groups are reassured that no white students or faculty could enter — and thus by their mere presence supposedly remind them of institutionalized white bias.

Left unmentioned is the surreal college enforcement of such segregation. What will happen if a half-white student, or a Brazilian, Peruvian, or Syrian foreign student, wanders into a safe space designated for blacks? Does the Dean of Diversity — presumably dressed in a sport coat with elbow patches rather than appearing as Lester Maddox with a bat — call security to expel the miscreants for their racist assumption that there should not be private areas set off by race?

Does the dean have a handy color-coded wheel he can pull out to place next to the arm of the would-be intruder to verify whether the bounder is guilty of being white? Do courts go back to the 1940s racial zoning laws for legal precedents for sustaining racially separate safe spaces on public campuses? And in reaction, do so-called white students then mark off their own racially designated areas — perhaps permissible if called “unsafe spaces”?

The old idea of racial and ethnic healing through interaction, assimilation, integration, and intermarriage has become passé in the era of Obama. The president, after all, has given us everything from “typical white person” and Trayvon Martin as the son he never had to Rev. Wright’s venom and Eric Holder’s “my people.”

SLIDESHOW: Oscar Nomininations

The notion that race is fixed and must override our character and behavior seems to be spreading even as America has become a fully diverse society in which, for example, many of the highest government positions — president, secretary of state, EPA director, energy secretary, attorney general, national security adviser, and director of NASA, to name a few — are currently or were recently held by people who are not white males.

Yet, as in the past, the intrusive primacy of racial identification usually in practice proves incoherent. Take the latest controversy over the lack of African-Americans in the 2016 Oscar nominations — in particular the failure of the Academy judges to nominate Straight Outta Compton for awards, supposedly de facto proof of racial bias.

The Economist magazine has noted that since 2000 blacks have been nominated at a rate almost commensurate with their percentage in the general population — and have received Oscars at a slightly higher percentage. That does not matter to multimillionaire 1-percenter black actors, who are furious that some of them were not nominated in 2016 and thus blame their unhappiness on racism.

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Under our present racial spoils system, 12 percent of all Oscar nominees each year apparently must be African-American — although so far Latino and Asian groups are not talking of boycotting the Oscars for real under-representation.

Perhaps instead of only Best Actress and Best Actor Awards, we should update and expand those rubrics to better represent our diverse society: Best Black Actress, Best Mixed-Race Actor, Best Latino Gay Actor, Best Transgendered Supporting Actor/ess?

The old idea of racial and ethnic healing through interaction, assimilation, integration, and intermarriage has become passé in the era of Obama.

Is the goal of all blue-chip American institutions to reflect proportional diversity? Must the University of California system now limit Asian enrollment to ensure that whites, blacks, and Latinos are present on campus in proportion to their numbers in the general population? Or do Asians not mind they are not given awards at the elite Oscars commensurate with their numbers in the population, as long as racially blind merit still governs admission to universities?

Should the U.S. Postal Service cut back on black employment because 20 percent of its highly sought-after jobs are held by African-Americans — wildly disproportionate to the black percentage of the general population? Is 20 percent then a racist figure? Should there be affirmative action for Asians to ensure postal diversity?

How about the marquee jobs in the National Basketball Association or the National Football League?

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Are those prized billets subject to the same cultural and non-meritocratic biases as are currently being applied to the Motion Picture Academy? Surely awards for individual basketball performance have inordinately gone to black players, in a fashion that does not reflect their numbers in the general population. What happened to the concept of disproportionate impact?

Whom to blame for the lack of diversity that effectively excludes Latinos and Asians from the NBA? Is there cultural bias in the manner in which we adjudicate basketball skills? Is dunking or making three-point shots a culturally conditioned construct designed to favor one set of basketball players over another? Does black privilege mean that other types of basketball skills are unduly neglected?

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Entry into the United States is highly coveted. Why do Mexican nationals account for over 50 percent of all immigrants, legal and illegal, when Latinos make up only 10 percent or so of the U.S. population?

Is that asymmetry proof of ethnic and racial biases that have subverted national immigration policy — at the expense of African, Asian, and European would-be immigrants? Can such an imbalance be addressed by court-ordered concepts of diversity and proportional representation? Cannot Estonians and Georgians have the same rights as Mexicans? Will the Dutch or the Japanese demand their fair share of illegal aliens?

#share#There are particular individuals who are especially outraged by the lack of African-American Oscar nominees this year, such as director Spike Lee, who promises to boycott the supposedly racist ceremony. Actor Will Smith will too, insisting that his own failure to be nominated did not contribute to his pique — although his pique is symbolic of the crisis in the black community, while apparently black-on-black crime, illegitimacy, and gun violence are not so much.

Yet by Spike Lee’s own standards and his own past, he should find nothing wrong with racial bias. Lee should boycott his own films for his long record of racist and reprehensible public statements designed to inflame and divide. It was the demagogic Lee, after all, who disclosed — inaccurately, as it turned out — the home address of the Zimmerman family in a sick effort to stir up violence during the Trayvon Martin debacle.

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And it was Lee who offered a number of incoherent but clearly racist comments about the supposed gentrification of his neighborhood (“You can’t just come in the neighborhood and start bogarting and say, like, you’re [expletive] Columbus and kill off the Native Americans”). Lee’s solution to apartheid in South Africa was direct and murderous. After visiting the country in the Nineties, he said: “I seriously wanted to pick up a gun and shoot whites. The only way to resolve matters is by bloodshed.” He has ridiculed interracial marriages in the tradition of Bull Connor’s old South.

Announced Oscar host Chris Rock was said at one time also to be considering boycotting the awards. But why should Rock mind racialization? He too has a history of sloppy racist outbursts that contradict his comic persona. He claimed that police never shoot “white kids” — although the number of unarmed suspects shot annually by police roughly reflects the racial percentages of those who are arrested or detained by police. On the Fourth of July, Rock announced: “Happy white people’s independence day.” The logical corollary is to suggest that commemoration of Martin Luther King’s birthday should be confined to the black community.

Speaking of the field of Oscar nominees this year, Rock, in an accidentally self-revealing comment, described the ceremony as “The White BET Awards.”

Given the careers of racial fakers such as Ward Churchill, Rachel Dolezal, Shaun King, and Elizabeth Warren, it seems we must start demanding DNA checks.

So follow Rock’s logic a bit further: African-Americans are considering boycotting the Oscars because this year they are not represented in numbers commensurate with their percentage of the population (unlike the aggregate average of the last 15 years) — a fact that induces Rock to suggest the Academy Awards are becoming like . . . the all-black Black Entertainment Television awards, of course. BET awards do not nominate white, Latino, or Asian actors and actresses, excluded entirely by their supposed DNA. Rock’s logic apparently is that the BET awards grew up to address the biases of the Oscars. But do BET awards disappear in years when African-Americans receive Oscar nominations and awards?

America in the age of Obama is spiraling toward a historically familiar chaos of the sort found in 19th-century Austria-Hungary, the former Yugoslavia, and contemporary Iraq and Lebanon. When people of different races and religions cannot get along and are whipped up by their careerist tribal leaders, then the state, to survive, steps in, either to create separate racial enclaves or to rotate and distribute awards strictly on the basis of percentage representation within the general population.

Given the careers of racial fakers such as Ward Churchill, Rachel Dolezal, Shaun King, and Elizabeth Warren, it seems we must start demanding DNA checks — can we borrow from the Third Reich the concept of wearing identifying lapel pins? — perhaps with a mandatory 51 percent rule for formal inclusion in a designated minority category.

Finally, there are lots of ironies in the Academy Awards nominations.

Hollywood leftists assumed their loud political correctness was a form of insurance.

First, Hollywood leftists assumed their loud political correctness was a form of insurance: The more shrilly they railed about American injustice, the more these Dr. Frankensteins thought they were protected from their own PC monsters. But Hollywood, at the producer and owner level, is run by a mostly white, 1-percenter hierarchy that, like Orwell’s two-legged revolutionary pigs, believes its abstract sloganeering balances its concrete deeds.

Second, minority groups, in fact, are “overrepresented” in a variety of coveted institutions, from sports to federal jobs — on the assumption that purported past discrimination allows such present disequilibrium. But we are a half-century from the civil-rights movement and 40 years into affirmative action. Nearly 50 million current American residents were not born in the U.S. and have no clue about the 1960s. There are tens of millions of non-black/non-white residents, and none of today’s undergraduates have firsthand experience of the civil-rights movement that might explain an accepted double standard that allows a “black caucus” or a BET ceremony. At some point, class matters more than race — unless we are to assume that multimillionaire Spike Lee has it rougher in 2016 America than an out-of-work Appalachian coal miner, or that Will Smith’s kids would eagerly trade places with a white mechanic’s sons in Bakersfield.

#related#Third, is the ultimate logic of the new segregationists apartheid, and thus apparently a new separatist white identity as well? If one rails enough at “white privilege,” then the third-generation Armenian-American, the second-generation Croatian-American, the recent arrival from the Azores, the one-half Basque, and the fourth-generation Greek-American will very possibly assume new common bonds that previously did not often exist — on the theory that if they are smeared for sharing an unspoken white solidarity and “privilege,” then they might as well share an identity in the fashion of other groups.

Is “European-American” the next hyphenated group in our future, a rubric as exact or inexact as “Latino,” which now apparently include Ted Cruz, Bill Richardson, a Brazilian aristocrat, and the Oaxacan immigrant who crossed the border this morning?

This is all going to end very badly.

Just pick up any history — and read about our catastrophes to come.

NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Savior Generals.

 

 

Victor Davis Hanson — NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.

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